Celebrity Twitter accounts hit by hackers

The accounts of a number of the rich and famous were taken over recently, resulting in some embarrassing and decidedly fake tweets.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
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Reports of Jack Black's death have been greatly exaggerated, courtesy of a hack attack.

Tenacious D/Twitter

Attention, Jack Black fans: The actor is "alive and well" despite a tweet claiming he had passed to the great beyond.

Black was one of several celebrities caught in a hoax in which Twitter accounts of famous peeps were compromised. Other celebrities whose accounts were taken over included musician Keith Richards and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Hacks against website and social media accounts aren't unusual, and hackers often go after celebrities for notoriety and in an attempt to embarrass them publicly. A major part of the problem is that people often use passwords that are easy to guess, and they use the same ones across multiple sites. That leaves them vulnerable to hackers who procure even one password.

Reports claim that some of the passwords were obtained as a result of a 2012 hack against professional networking site LinkedIn. In mid-May, LinkedIn announced that hackers stole and released more than 100 million members' email and password combinations.

The latest hacks put affected celebrities in an awkward position. After regaining control of its Twitter account, Black's music group, Tenacious D, sent a tweet Sunday stating: "WE had our Twitter account hacked. We can assure you that Jack is ALIVE and WELL and that this was a sick 'prank.'"

Hacked more than week ago, singer Katy Perry's Twitter account was flooded with offensive and racist tweets.

The Twitter account of Kylie Jenner likewise was hit by mocking tweets, CBS News reported Monday. The fake tweets included one that read: "I love being so famous with no talent."

Even social media mogul Zuckerberg wasn't immune. Hacker group Ourmine claimed that it broke into the Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter accounts of the Facebook CEO.

In 2014, a series of compromising photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kaley Cuoco were made public after a hacker was able to gain access to their Apple iCloud accounts. In March, the hacker pleaded guilty to the crime of computer hacking.

"A number of other online services have seen millions of passwords stolen in the past several weeks, and we know far too many people use the same password for multiple things online," a Twitter spokesman said in a statement. "We recommend people use a unique, strong password for Twitter. We detail other steps people can take to keep their accounts secure on our help center here."